Audi's little hatch grows up: Next-gen A1 Sportback arrives in SA - part of brand's huge model offensive

Image: Motorpress
Image: Motorpress

In 2011, the radical Audi A1 made its debut at it had a singular mission - grab the attention of a younger buyer. Since then, more than 13 700 units of the compact hatchback have found  South African homes. 

For 2019, the A1 Sportback has grown up, transforming into a more premium offering aimed at young professionals.

With its infotainment and interior features on a par with its higher-tier siblings, the A1 Sportback is built for the mobile connectivity. New trim lines and package structures also provide ample opportunity for customization.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

Exterior design

The A1 Sportback has grown significantly in length – with an additional 56mm, it now measures 4.03m. At the same time, the width has remained almost the same at 1.74m. The new-generation is only 1.41m in height (including aerial, the car is 1.43m). The wide track and short overhangs provide for a taut, sporty look.

The wide, low-placed singleframe grille and the implied side air inlets dominate the distinctive front. Below the edge of the hood are three flat slits – an homage to the Sport quattro, the brand’s rally icon from 1984.

The new A1 continues its resemblance to the Audi Ur-quattro and Sport quattro when viewed from the side.

audi a1

                                              Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

The distinctive daytime running light graphics of the full-LED lights (standard on 35 and 40 TFSI) echo the dynamic wing shapes from sailing, known as hydrofoils. The design of the shutters for the main light also draws inspiration from sailing. The wing segments on the flanks create an impression of maximum width. A low-set, concentrated look in conjunction with the small rhombus segments in the top section of the headlights provides a sporty appearance.

audi a1

                                              Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

The new A1 Sportback is available in a choice of ten colours. The roof of the compact model can be optionally finished in a contrasting colour from the A-pillar to the roof edge spoiler.

A sporty character: the Edition #1

The Launch Edition model (known as Edition #1) is based on the S line equipment line in 'Python Yellow' and available from market launch. Large 18" Audi Sport alloy wheels and black contrasting roof and exterior mirror housings, set powerful accents to create a sporty look.

Borrowing from the legendary Audi Sport quattro, the LED headlights and LED rear lights are dark-tinted. The Audi rings in the Singleframe and the model designation on the back are black, emphasising an increased athletic and trendy appeal.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

The equipment lines

A new feature in the A1 Sportback is the equipment modular lines structure. This provides for a particularly high degree of flexibility for the customer.

Depending on the equipment line – Standard, Advanced or S line – the attachments on the exterior are available in various configurations. With S line equipment, Audi has emphasised the sporty character even more through numerous features.

These include larger air inlets, additional sill trims, an elongated slit centrally below the hood with two fins and the larger rear wing. The top-of-the-line engine (Audi A1 45 TFSI) is also recognisable with its striking twin tailpipes.

Audi is additionally affording customers numerous possibilities to select colours and materials accordingly with the Black Styling Package and Contrast Package. The Black Styling Package includes the radiator grille in mate black; grille frame; front air inlet frame; rear-diffuser and front spoiler, all in high gloss black. The Contrast Package offers a contrasting roof dome; exterior-mirror housing; front spoiler lip and side skirts in Mythos Black Metallic or Manhattan Grey Metallic.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

New interior

The interior is accordingly driver-focused, with its emotive, customisable design. 

The display and the air vent strip on the front passenger side are integrated in a black-glass look. The optional contour and ambient lighting package brings the interior design to life in the dark if desired through LED light elements in 30 selectable colours.

Various seat and upholstery options are available from standard cloth variations to other sport variants in cloth or leather/leatherette combination. Decorative inlays and accents in the interior of the vehicle provide additional cockpit design enhancements. The inlays are available in black (standard) or the optional slate grey colour. Accents come standard in black with optional colours in silver, yellow and mint.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

More space and comfort

The new A1 Sportback is much more spacious – making life much more comfortable for the driver, front passenger and rear passengers. Despite the compact exterior dimensions and the sporty roof line, adults in the rear seats still enjoy plenty of head and leg room.

Luggage capacity has increased by 65-litres. Normal capacity is 335-litres; with the rear seats folded down, this increases to 1090 litres. Loading sill height is a comfortably low 67cm.

Fully digital

The new Audi A1 Sportback is fit for the digital future. Even the basic version comes standard with a fully digital-instrument cluster with a high-resolution 8.8" display. The optional Audi virtual cockpit with an extended range of functions presents comprehensive and diverse information such as animated navigation maps and graphics of some driver assistance systems in the driver’s direct field of vision.

audi a1

                                              Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till


The MMI radio plus is standard – it can be operated via the multifunction buttons on the steering wheel and the display in the fully digital instrument cluster. In the top configuration, MMI navigation plus offers a 10.1" MMI touchscreen, which blends seamlessly into the black glass-look area. As with a smartphone, all commands are via touch input. The latest generation of voice control further improves the dialog between driver and car.

The optional Audi smartphone interface ensures you are always well connected on board the new A1 Sportback. It integrates iOS and Android smartphones using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into an environment in the MMI programmed specifically for them, and offers two USB interfaces (1x USB-A, 1x USB-C with increased charging current).

Another option, the Audi phone box, thus ensures improved reception quality with LTE support and charges the smartphone inductively via wireless charging according to the Qi standard.

Music and acoustics aficionados will be pleased to find a Digital Audio Broadcasting tuner with the Audi sound system and the Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System. The optional B&O system drives eleven speakers with an output of 560 watts. Its 3D effect uses the windshield as a reflecting surface.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa /  Rob Till

Customers looking to upgrade their technology on the vehicle, are easily able to specify the Technology Package, which contains the Audi Virtual Cockpit; Audi Smartphone Interface and Audi Sound System for R9900.

Light and robust

The body of the new Audi A1 Sportback includes components made out of hot-formed steel that form the backbone of the passenger cell. The rigid body and exact fits guarantee sportily precise driving and the absence of intrusive noise on board.

With a front area of 2.07 sq. and a drag coefficient of 0.31, the new A1 Sportback offers very little windage.

Powerful and efficient

Whether running around town or going on a weekend excursion – its powerful engines in particular make driving the much more fun. There is a choice of three efficient petrol engines with outputs ranging from 85kW to 147kW. Turbocharging, direct injection and a particulate filter are standard.

Audi is making a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission available for the 1.0 and 1.5 engines. The exception is the top-of-the-range, 2.0 engine, where a six-speed S tronic transmission shifts gears as standard.

audi a1

                                               Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

Sporty, poised tuning

The axle design of the new Audi A1 Sportback delivers agile handling and a sporty, poised driving experience. The front suspension is a McPherson construction; a compact, lightweight torsion beam axle is used at the rear. Besides the basic suspension, there is an option for a tauter sport suspension.

The Dynamic Package, available only on the 30 and 35 TFSI S line models, bundle equipment options to give the A1 Sportback an even sportier trim. This includes a sport suspension, red brake calipers and larger brake discs, a sound actuator and Audi drive select. The Dynamic Package contents come as standard equipment on the top-of-the-range 40 TFSI model.

The brakes of the new A1 Sportback can be precisely metered and provide a responsive, taut pedal feel. The optional hold assist enhances safety on uphill and downhill slopes by preventing the car from rolling after stopping. Wheels are available in sizes from 15" up to 18".

audi a1

                                              Image: Audi South Africa / Rob Till

Local packages

Audi South Africa has introduced a new package concept which will be adopted for all new models to be launched. The concept aims to reduce complexity when ordering a new vehicle, considering that a customer is generally faced with a long list of options to choose from.

It classifies key options according to a specific customer need and offers a straight-forward value proposition that is easy for a customer to understand. These packages have been defined by a combination of customer preferences as well as strategic options which aim to highlight Audi’s uniqueness or technology enhancements.

The packages include:




Lights (for 30 TFSI only)

S line interior

Within each package structure is a few options suited to the particular proposition. For example, the Technology package includes Audi virtual cockpit; Audi smartphone interface and Audi sound system.

The Audi A1 range is priced as follows, along with the standard Audi Freeway plan (5 year / 100 000 km) and inclusive of all taxes:

 • Audi A1 30 TFSI S tronic at R359 900

 • Audi A1 30 TFSI Advanced S tronic at R373 900

 • Audi A1 30 TFSI S line S tronic at R388 900

 • Audi A1 35 TFSI S tronic at R429 900

 • Audi A1 35 TFSI Advanced S tronic at R443 900

 • Audi A1 35 TFSI S line S tronic at R458 900

 • Audi A1 40 TFSI S line S tronic at R488 000

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